Free software to monitor a webcam image for changes?
February 16, 2005 8:11 AM   Subscribe

I've got a new webcam, and I'd like to find some free, spyware-less software that would monitor the image and email an alert to me if it changes. Anyone know of any good programs?

I checked.. and while there have been a lot of webcam queries on askmefi, I didn't see this one.
posted by ascullion to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
You will get better responses if you let people know what OS you are running.
posted by terrapin at 8:21 AM on February 16, 2005

I've tried this before, and it's difficult.

There are MS Windows programs that will email, but few are free. Of the one I think I recall, it was flaky.

There are linux apps (motiondetect, on sourceforge, for one) that appear to work decently, but they require a video4linux supported camera; I've not tried them.

There's also a stand-alone picture comparing utility on sourceforge (motion?) but even after going to the trouble of compiling it under cygwin -- and it was trouble, as it had dependencies on various image libraries which had dependencies on various compression libraries, and it was just painful -- it seemed to either get too many false positive or to miss real changes I'd hoped it would pick up.

There are some stand-alone MS Windows utilities that will just snap photos on an interval (fwink and dorgem both use the Windows Video APIs) -- you could then pipe the photo to another app that tested for changes above some threshold, and then invoke a program to send email. But to do this, you need a decent image comparison program, which I still haven't been able to find.

I suppose the thing to do is write an interface that adapts the Windows Video to the Video4Linux API, but I was never courageous enough to open that can of worms.
posted by orthogonality at 8:44 AM on February 16, 2005

Response by poster: Ah, yes. Windows XP.
posted by ascullion at 8:48 AM on February 16, 2005

There are approximately 5 billion programs to set up various security systems with webcams in the webcam section. I can't vouch for any one in specific though.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 2:15 PM on February 16, 2005

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